A joint venture between two of Australia's best-known advertising agencies has doubled its presence in the UAE with new offices based at Abu Dhabi's media zone, twofour54.
The new agency, BWM Naked, is a joint venture between Naked Communications and Belgiovane Williams Mackay (BWM), two agencies in the Photon Group, which is listed in Australia.
Globally, Naked works with companies such as Nokia, Coca-Cola and Adidas. The UAE joint venture, which is based at the company's flagship office in Dubai, counts the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) as one of its clients.
"We're launching this month in Abu Dhabi, in twofour54. We're adding what we believe to be a missing layer to the current resources," said Anthony Dalton, the managing director of BWM Naked.
Mr Dalton said the company helps to develop integrated communications plans, which can be used to inform other agency work such as advertising, branding and public relations.
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"What we develop is communications ideas that feed all those different divisions," said Mr Dalton. "We start further up the chain. We look at a business problem, not an advertising problem."
BWM Naked's tests include 50 questions to be answered by everyone working on a particular brand's campaign, including external advertising agencies. Typical questions include ranking the status of the brand, how competitive the product category is, and the importance of the brand. The company then provides a ranking of media channels, such as TV and retail advertising, based on its survey.
Guy Sinclair, the creative director of BWM Naked, said there was a "fragmentation" among many big local brands. "You have lots of different agencies out there talking to different marketing managers about different ideas. It's like having a split personality," said Mr Sinclair. "The consumer here sees brands in not their most concentrated form."
Among other things, BWM Naked uses a proprietary tool to help develop a company's brand identity. The results can by used to inform other decisions about advertising, marketing and branding, Mr Sinclair said. "It feels like a psychometric test for companies," he said.
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Many big brands in Abu Dhabi are "an amazing technicolor story, but too often it's told in black and white", said Mr Dalton.
"Businesses here regard consumers as targets and not partners. Brands tend to shout at targets rather than try to work and form relationships … Unfortunately, some businesses here assume that big awareness campaigns are the answer to every problem."
Mr Dalton said the TDIC was the company's largest client. "We've got four clients right now. Over the last six months we've been talking to all the major businesses in Abu Dhabi," he said. BWM Naked will initially have two or three people working in the UAE capital, but it plans for the Abu Dhabi agency to eventually become larger than its Dubai office, where it has a staff of 15.
Wayne Borg, the chief operating officer at twofour54, confirmed that the agency would set up an office there, adding that the total staff count at the Abu Dhabi media hub was approaching four figures.
"We have north of 100 licensed companies operating at twofour54, employing close to 1,000 people," said Mr Borg.
"We're really pleased to see an agency of BWM Naked's calibre join our community," he said. "The strategic tools that they apply, from what I understand, are unique in this market. And that's why we were keen for them to become part of the community here."
However, John Brash, the founder and chief executive of Brash Brands, an agency in Dubai, said big communications networks may provide similar services.
"Nowadays, everyone really has to sell themselves in that way," said Mr Brash, whose agency worked alongside BWM Naked for TDIC. "It's a very big claim to say that [BWM Naked] can do it all. But they are good at what they do and the methodology of what they do is interesting."